President Trump (I still can’t believe it) will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court tomorrow night at 8pm. He had planned to do it Thursday, but over the weekend escalated the timeframe. I am sure, in part, it was because of the immigration executive order controversy. He is changing the subject.
Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals are the two finalists. Based on everything everyone is hearing, including several ABC News reports, I suspect it will be Gorsuch. But this is Donald Trump we are talking about. Tomorrow night at 8pm is an eternity for this administration and we could get to 7pm tomorrow and suddenly find Justice Willett at the White House waiting to be nominated.
Between Gorsuch and Hardiman, I do think President Trump should go with Gorsuch. Hardiman is more of a blank slate and has not been tested on all the issues Gorsuch has. Additionally, this is Antonin Scalia’s seat, not Anthony Kennedy’s seat. The records of the two men indicate Gorsuch would bring more intellectual firepower to the bench in the spirit of Scalia. Hardiman would undoubtedly be an improvement over Kennedy, but his record does not suggest he is the best fit for Scalia’s seat.
Many evangelical conservatives rallied to Donald Trump because of the Supreme Court above any other issue. Many conservatives who did not want Donald Trump rallied to him after his nomination to save the Court. Because of that support, choosing Hardiman over a Gorsuch or even a Mike Lee for Antonin Scalia’s seat is problematic.
Republicans should swing for the fences on saving Antonin Scalia’s seat. Gorsuch’s record makes him look like a wiser choice. Mike Lee would be a wiser choice. If Gorsuch or Lee cannot get through the United States Senate with Republicans in control and Harry Reid’s precedent of abolishing the filibuster for lower court nominees, the GOP might as well call it a day and go home. Going for the more nebulous, less sure thing conservative nominee, would be an admission against interest that the Republicans in the Senate do not think they can get through a staunch conservative.
Frankly, if Donald Trump gets Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and maybe even a Sykes or a Pryor or a Justice Willett (!!), he will have done more to spare the United States from leftwing catastrophe than any Republican President since Reagan. And considering Reagan gave us Kennedy, Trump would be outpacing that.
The one guaranteed thing we know for sure is that whomever Donald Trump puts on the Supreme Court, his chorus of supporters will declare it the best, wisest, most conservative, most strategic, most confirmable pick since George Washington was President, no matter how good or bad the nominee actually is.